Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) remained in the green for the fifth consecutive month in April, thanks to growth in both electronic and non-electronic shipments.

Official released by trade agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on May 17 pointed to a 6.0% y-o-y increase in April’s NODX. This is narrower than the 11.9% growth rate registered in the month before.

April’s showing falls short of the median rise of 11% penciled by private-sector economists in a Bloomberg poll.

The increase was led by a 10.9% expansion in the linchpin electronic shipments. This is a substantial slowdown from the 24.4% jump staged in March.

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Key segments that contributed to April’s performance were diodes & transistors, PCs and IC, which had grown by 54.5%, 39.9% and 3.2% respectively.

Non-electronic shipments similarly grew by 4.7% in April, following the 9.2% rise seen in the previous month.

A substantial push came from a 54% or $0.8 billion surge in shipments of specialised machinery that follows robust global semiconductor demand. 

Petrochemicals NODX was similarly up by 63% or $0.6 billion, after having declined in the past two years due to the global downcycle. For comparison, the segment had logged an average decline of 15% in 2019 and 21% 2020.

Non-electronic shipments also picked up following a 105% or $0.3 billion increase in the primary chemicals NODX which picked up from the low base from the previous year.

On a m-o-m seasonally adjusted basis, NODX edged down by 8.8% in April, reversing from the previous month’s 1.1% increase. This translates to $15.4 billion in takings in April’s NODX compared to $16.9 billion in March. This follows declines in both electronic and non-electronic exports.

In this time, Singapore’s NODX to its top 10 markets declined as a whole, despite increases seen in shipments to China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

On the other hand, exports to the US (-42.3%), Japan (-33.2%) and the EU 27 (-30.2%), staged the largest declines in April.

Interestingly, the decline in shipments to the EU 27 is a reversal from the 31.6% rise in the preceding month and follows a decline in the export of pharmaceuticals (-64.5%), miscellaneous manufactured articles (-38.6%) and medical apparatus (-23.0%).

Conversely, the plunge in shipments to the US and Japan is an extension of the declines seen the previous month. The lower exports to the US follows a decline in the shipment of non-monetary gold (-99.8%), disk media products (-63.1%) and food preparations (-12.1%). 

Japan’s performance stems from declines in the export of pharmaceuticals (-82.3%), optical goods (-62.2%) and specialised machinery (-55.6%).

Meanwhile, Singapore’s non-oil re-exports (NORX) was up by 34.3%, expanding significantly from the 28.8% increase it posted from the previous month. This comes from the low base in 2020 as well as growth in both electronic and non-electronic re-exports, says ESG.

Electronic re-exports were up 36.3% due to higher shipments of telecommunications equipment (+62.8%), parts of PCs (+54.7%) and ICs (+31.4%).

Similarly, non-electronic re-exports grew by 32.1% following increments in non-monetary gold (+280.5%), watches & clocks (+259.2%) and specialised machinery (+60.7%).

On a seasonally adjusted m-o-m basis, NORX dipped by 1.4%, reversing from the previous month’s 8.4% increase. This equates to $28.4 billion in takings in April, versus $28.8 billion in March.

NORX shipments to the top 10 markets grew, with the key contributors being Malaysia (+61.8%), China (+56.5%) and Hong Kong (+16.4%).

SEE:Growth in Singapore's non-oil domestic exports slows to 6% in July

On another note, Singapore’s oil domestic exports were up by 63.8% y-o-y in April, extending the preceding month’s 14.6% expansion. This follows the low base from a year ago as well as higher exports to Malaysia (+120.2%), Indonesia (+88.7%) and China (+67.4%) on a year on year basis.

Overall, total trade in April was up by 26.3% in April, extending the previous month’s 19.6% growth. In this time, total exports rose by 26.6% - from March’s 21.0% rise, while total imports expanded by 25.9% - from the previous month’s 17.9% increase.

On a seasonally adjusted m-o-m basis, total trade was down by 2.6%, deviating from March’s 7.1% rise. With this, total trade reached $95.8 billion in April, lower than March’s $98.4 billion.

Going forward, there is a risk that NODX momentum may moderate further in the coming months, mulls Selena Ling, who heads the treasury research and strategy division of OCBC Bank.

This is “due to the global Covid situation and tightening of restriction measures both globally and domestically, the situation remains very dynamic and may imply some downside risk to our existing full-year 2021 NODX growth forecast of 4.0% y-o-y,” she adds.

Maybank Kim Eng economists Chua Hak Bin and Lee Ju Ye, however, are remaining positive “on the exports outlook as economic reopening in the US and Europe will continue to drive external demand and trade.”

Meanwhile, the duo are maintaining their 2021 GDP forecast at +6.2% despite the recent tightening of social distancing measures for the estimate “already factors in a sluggish services recovery”.

“The stricter measures will likely not materially slow down the key sectors powering growth, which include manufacturing and professional services (financial, infocomm),” note Chua and Lee.